Preparing for a baby while on a budget can be a challenge. When that pregnancy test showed double lines (and the 9-month countdown started), immediately we panicked and pulled the bank statements out. At the time, I knew nothing of how coverage worked with insurance (in the US), what must have baby essentials we needed or how we were going to figure this out. But we HAD to make it work.
We ‘grew up’, learning what our insurance meant, how to budget, made a financial game plan for our future and got out of debt…all in 9 months.
Below, 19 people shared their BEST tips for how to financially prepare for a baby through their own experiences. What’s so great about these tips is that most of these individuals are financial bloggers AND parents. Many of them write on financial independence and how to properly handle your money. Others are veteran mommies who have ‘been-there-done-that’.
Other great posts to help you prepare for baby the best way possible:
19 Ways To Prepare For A Baby On A Budget, Tips From Real Parents
Make sure you know exactly what your insurance covers & do a budget
Alice Bolte // Cape & Apron
I’ll start with the very best tips I can give you. Make SURE you know what is covered and what isn’t with your insurance. These are great questions (we asked our insurance as well):
- How much do you estimate we will pay for labor & delivery? How many days are covered in the hospital for a vaginal delivery and how many days are covered for a C-section (just in case)?
- Are prenatal visits 100% covered?
- Is testing (like urine samples and bloodwork) 100% covered? Are there any stipulations (like it needs to be a free-standing clinic)?
- Are “formal” ultrasounds covered 100%? (Not the ultrasound they do in the clinic real quick to see a glimpse of baby with your doctor. These are formal appointments where you go just for the ultrasound and they take a zillion pictures, measuring the baby’s everything. The first formal ultrasound is usually at 20 weeks where you learn the gender of the baby.)
We cloth diapered to save THOUSANDS. One lady told me she totaled up how much disposable diapers cost her for their 4 children and it was equal to the downpayment on their house. Consider cloth diapering. Modern cloth diapering is no longer the big white sheet with clothespins. Nowadays, they are just like disposables (velcro and everything!) but you throw them in the wash. I said I would NEVER cloth diaper. But once I looked into it, I realized that clothing diapering is totally doable and not anything like I thought it would be!
This post is one of the top searched guides for cloth diapering:
Lastly, once you have a cost estimated, start a 9-month savings plan after you’ve had a look at your fixed and variable expenses. Because of this ONE step, I was able to stay home, start a blog for a nice side income and raise our baby.
Download FREE worksheets to help in preparing for baby planning. This includes:
- Month-By-Month Blank Checklist Calendar
- Monthly Budget Sheet
- 1st Trimester Checklist
- 2nd Trimester Checklist
- 3rd Trimester Checklist
Get groceries for free AND try survey sites out to get some quick cash
– Cindy Hemming // The Living Sunshine
When I found out I was pregnant, I started collecting loyalty points at my
local grocery store and saving them up. After baby was born and I was on
mat leave, I had enough to pay for groceries for about a month.
I joined a survey site shortly after having the baby. While breastfeeding,
I would do some surveys on my phone and wrack up points. It was a great way
to spend time during those long days and nights that you feel like you’re
nursing non-stop! They started to quickly add up and I cashed them in for a
Consider buying your baby gear and some baby clothing secondhand. Baby gear
is so expensive and you’ll only be using it for a few months, max. Buying
secondhand will save you a ton of money, and also helps the environment!
We used cloth diapers for both of my babies and saved sooo much money. It
was an investment upfront, but the cost was covered before my first
daughter turned one. Now that my second is in diapers, I haven’t had to pay
a cent and am loving it!
Contribute to an HSA & borrow baby gear when you can
– Jen Kohorst // Minnesota Momma
We did a few things that really helped us prepare financially for having a baby. First, we increased our contribution to our HSA. This forced us to save extra early and watch our spending, rather than have a huge chunk of money all come out at once the baby arrived.
Other ways we saved was on baby gear. We borrowed some from family, we were careful to select only products we thought were necessary that wouldn’t blow our budget, and we bought diapers in bulk while they were on sale. These tips all helped us to feel less financial strain once our baby arrived and the hospital bill came!
Consider building equity for additional income
Brandon // Brandon Renfro
Shortly before our baby was born, my wife and I bought a foreclosure that we renovated. We were then able to refinance the house and purchase two additional (small) rental properties with the equity. The resulting mortgage payment on the new home was less than what we had been paying in rent for our one bedroom apartment. Couple that with the addition of the rental income and we were much better from a budget standpoint.
Know how much your baby will cost you & open a 529 account
Jason Reposa // MyBankTracker.com
My wife and I are great at budgeting, so I tried to figure out how much a baby cost. After that, I started working on auto-subscribing to basic necessities like diapers, wipes, etc. so we could save as much as possible from the delivery discount. Even though we have automatic subscriptions set up, we still review and analyze our spending. We also opened a 529 account and put away $50 per month on auto-save. Every year we increase this by $50. We do this because we want the best for our children.
Add money each month to a separate savings account and use your tax refund
Marc Andre // Vital Dollar
About 7 years ago when my wife and I were expecting our first child, we set up a separate savings account specifically for baby-related expenses. We wanted to set aside money for uncovered medical expenses, furniture, clothes, a car seat, and everything else that’s needed. We set aside money each month during the pregnancy and we also used our tax refund to give that savings account a big boost. By the time our daughter was born, we had $5,000 in the account, which was more than enough. It was nice to have that money designated for baby expenses so it didn’t feel like it was coming out of our regular savings.
Budget for certain expenses after baby is born
Peter Koch // Seller At Heart
I have two kids and my experience is that in first three months costs are next to nothing. We got almost everything as gifts, actually, we got more than we needed as babies outgrow clothes fast. After three months:
1. Babies get sick often but that’s really hard to budget for
2. 200 diapers per month + 4 pack of wipes
3. Baby powder, baby shower supplies, baby detergent (has to be separated
from your own)
4. Formula. This is optional
Target sales & stick with the basic essentials
– Jacqueline // Mom Money Map
We cut costs by buying some things used and targeting Black Friday sales. We also asked a lot of family and friends what they considered to be a baby essential (including what they used from their hospital bag) and focused on getting these items only.
Stagger your spending & borrow maternity clothes
Megan Anderson // Megan’s Life With Little’s
I did not go out and “buy everything” all at once. I put a lot of thought into my baby registry to see what I really needed and that way I would not have to buy a ton of items myself. Secondly, I did not purchase a ton of new maternity clothes. I borrowed from friends to alleviate some of that cost. Also, I basically lived in a few main maternity outfits, so no need to buy new maternity clothes all the time.
Consider a home birth, breastfeeding & baby led weaning
Christina // Raising Biracial Babies
I had a home birth, which wasn’t done solely for financial purposes but it did end up saving us a lot of money. I also exclusively breastfed for the first 6-7 months, and still nursed even when my baby was starting out with solids. When I needed to pump milk, I got a free breast pump through insurance. Once my baby started solids, I did baby led weaning. This saved money because I didn’t have to buy baby food or baby snacks, I just gave my baby foods we were already buying. We saved a lot of money the first year just from these four things!
Buy diapers ahead of time & schedule your bills now
Audrey Marshall // Mommy Enlightened
To prepare for our newborn, we started buying diapers through a diaper subscription as soon as we learned I was pregnant. We knew diapers were expensive and one of the most important things we would purchase for our baby. We also spent time setting up auto pay on all of our bills. Life with a newborn would be pretty hectic, and we wanted one less thing to worry about.
Plan for expenses AFTER your baby is born
Jill // Organizational Toast
As you get closer to your delivery date, it’s important to prepare a post-baby budget. Plan to create a budget for the first 3 months after baby is born. If you will have a reduction in pay after your baby is born, it’s important to have a good look at what your income and expenses will look like during that time. Even if you won’t have a change in income your expenses will change and you want to be prepared.
Pay monthly & pick up a side gig
Jessica LeBrun // On Moxie & Motherhood
I am currently pregnant with baby #3, which was a surprise so unfortunately, I had chosen a very “low” insurance plan for myself (my kids are on my husband’s insurance which is better). At my doctor’s office, they require a prepay for your full deductible plus an estimate of 20% of the charges for your delivery. I am currently paying monthly so that by the time the baby is born I will not owe my doctor anything more.
I’m a freelancer and couldn’t really afford these monthly payments, so I picked up another “side gig” doing transcription work online from home, and I use the money I am paid weekly to pay the prepay. I will continue this after the baby is born to pay the rest of the bills from the hospital, etc. It’s actually made me think that I could do this all year and put this “extra” money towards others debts as well.
Buy second hand
Hayley // Miss Manypennies
We budgeted for our babies by buying things second hand to save money – we managed to buy our crib, bouncer and loads of baby clothes for a fraction of what they would have cost new. Most preloved things are still in fab condition: babies grow so quickly they don’t get used for long, so you can get great quality stuff without the high price tag!
Reach out and get those freebies!
Elena Fernandez // Money Savvy Me
Being in Canada, I am very grateful that I didn’t have to pay for the birth of my children. That being said, children are still expensive! The best thing I did to save was contact a number of companies for coupons and free products – and many were more than happy to share! I also went to a number of baby shows in metropolitan areas and received amazing swag bags filled with gifts, coupons and gift certificates! Long story short, don’t be afraid to let companies know that you are going to have a baby, because most are quite happy to give you lots of free stuff in an attempt to build brand loyalty!
Plan childcare now & hold off on buying baby gear
Jenny Hartley // Welcome To The Circus
As first time parents, my husband and I focused on three tips to prepare for our daughter financially! First, we spent 9 months saving up our vacation and sick days for maternity and paternity leave as we wouldn’t be receiving paid time off for maternity leave. (Be sure to talk with your HR departments ahead of time and have a plan!)
Secondly, we began the hunt for affordable childcare long before my maternity leave was over (we actually started looking before she was born!) It was amazing how many waitlists we had to get on, but this really paid off when we were able to secure an affordable daycare option.
Finally, we held off on buying ALL of our baby gear in advance so that we could make decisions about bigger items once we actually knew what we would truly use. This helped us save so much money and make purchases that fit our lifestyle rather than getting over-excited and buying too many things before our daughter came.
Stick to a budget before trying for a baby
Liz Bayardelle // The Stay Sane Mom
We knew we wanted to have a baby, but wouldn’t let ourselves start trying until we made our budget for 3 months in a row. We also started a small savings account that automatically took money out of our checking on payday whether we wanted it to or not just in case any crazy baby expenses happened. Lastly, we were lucky enough to have a baby at the tail end of a year where we had already met our insurance deductible, so the hospital bill was next to nothing! Not something you can always plan, but definitely helped!
Consider a birthing center if you don’t have insurance & if you do go to a hospital, be sure to snag all those hospital supplies!
Stormy Stevenson // Pregnant Momma Baby Life
For my baby, I wanted to birth in a birthing center with a midwife. My insurance didn’t cover this. Instead, I had to pay $4,000 out of pocket for my prenatal care and birth experience. This is actually very reasonable and a great option for those without insurance! The key is finding a center that will work with you. Instead of paying everything up front, I was able to pay off a good chunk each month while pregnant, and then for several months after. I got unbelievable service from them, and even in home and newborn baby visits. It was worth every penny.
I also had a hospital birth. I was a little shocked at how much the hospital bill was after having a baby. We were able to use our savings a pay a good chunk while still in the hospital, because they brought us the bill while still in room! But we were able to work out and negotiate a deal with the hospital where they’d let us pay a smaller monthly amount to pay off the rest of the bill.
When you’re in the hospital, make sure to stock up on some of the supplies to take home with you. These supplies get added to your bill anyway, and is part of the room cost. So grab the maternity pads and make sure to ask for extra peri pain spray to take home with you if they have it.
Buy baby things AFTER the baby shower
Ashley Clements // That Moxie Mom
My husband and I financially prepared for our baby by starting a budget. We prioritized what we needed before the baby and added it to the budget. Starting to stock up on disposable things like diapers and wipes months before I went on maternity leave was essential. We didn’t want to worry about stretching our budget while we were on one income by running out of diapers each week.
Deciding not to buy anything, like clothes or accessories, until after our baby shower. We didn’t want to buy something only to get it at our shower. That way we would know what was left to add to our budget, it also was nice not to worry about returning duplicates.
Preparing for a baby on a budget doesn’t have to be scary. Once you sit down with your budget, call your insurance and create a gameplan, a HUGE weight will be lifted off of your shoulders. Even though money was crazy tight with our first (we lived off of $500 a month), we made sure where every penny was going, got creative and made it work. While it was HARD and it sucked, budgeting that tight doesn’t have to last a lifetime. You can do it!
What are you doing (or have done) to prepare for a baby on a budget?
Preparing For Baby FREE Prenatal Course
If you haven’t taken a prenatal class, register for Hilary Erickson’s class here.
She’s an RN with over 16 years of experience in labor and delivery.
Best of all, you can take Hilary’s classes at your own pace, within your own schedule. Hospital classes fill up FAST, you may have to take work off and sit for eight hours at a time. Skip all that inconvenience and check out her fantastic courses. She JUST added new content!